Friday, November 11, 2011

Letters to my Grandma

Remembrance Day is a very important day for Canadians.  It has always held a very special place in my heart because my uncle died in World War II and my grandma was the Silver Cross Mother in Yorkton, SK for several years.  I am thankful for all Canadian soldiers, past and present, and for their contributions to our country in ensuring our daily freedoms.

Last year, my Dad gave me the letters that my grandparents had received from the Royal Canadian Air Force that document when my uncle was first reported missing and later presumed dead.  Reading these letters is heartbreaking as you imagine the grief that my grandparents must have gone through in receiving them.

Flight Sergeant George Alvin Keil

Royal Canadian Air Force

Service # CAN/R.86378

Age: 22 years, 4 months, 28 days.

Birthdate: May 22, 1920


1)      The 1939-1945 Star
2)      The Atlantic Star
3)      The Canadian Volunteer Service medal
4)      The War Medal 1939-1945

Other Information received by his mother, Mrs. Amalia Keil, Togo, Sask. Canada (Most of the Official letters were addressed to the mother.)

1. (C.F. King) Wing Commander, Commanding No. 407 Squadron, R.C.A.F., on 22nd of October, 1942.

Unfortunately, this letter is to confirm Air Ministry’s signal that your son, Flight Sergeant G.A. Keil, was posted missing on an operational flight which took place on October 20th, 1942.

Your son was acting as navigator for his regular crew and took off from this aerodrome at 7:30 a.m. on a routine anti-shipping patrol in the Bay of Biscay. In this case, as in most operations of this nature, no information has been received which would throw light on what may have happened. It is necessary that crews maintain radio silence unless in difficulties but in this case no signals were received at base.

Your son has flown a good many operational flights and both he and the crew with which he was flying on this past operation were considered very competent in their duties. You can rest assured that, whatever may have happened, your son carried out his duties in his usual  efficient manner.

2. B. McLean for (W.R.Gunn) Flight Lieutenant R.C.A.F. Casualties Officer, for Chief of the Air Staff, on October 23rd, 1942

Advice has been received  from the Royal Canadian Air Force Casualties Officer, Overseas, that your son was a member of the crew of an aircraft which failed to return to its base after air operations on October 20th, 1942. There was one other member of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the crew, Flight Sergeant Moses Zumar, and he also has been reported missing. His next-of-kin is his father, Mr. Israel Zumar of Ottawa, Ontario.

I desire to point out that this does not necessarily mean that your son has been killed or wounded.  It might be that he is a prisoner of war and inquiries have been made through the International Red Cross Society and all other appropriate sources.

3. Air Commodore, Air officer in Charge, Air Ministry Records, on October 24th, 1942.

I am commanded by the Air Council to express to you their grave concern on learning from the Casualties Officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force that your son, CAN/R.86378 Flight Sergeant George Alvin KEIL has been reported missing as the result of air operations.

The Hudson aircraft of which he was the navigator failed to return to its base on the 20th October 1942 from an operational flight.

The Air Council desire me to express their deep sympathy with you in your great anxiety, and earnestly hope that favourable news of your son may be forthcoming.

4. Minton C. Johnston, Chaplain, R.C.A.F. on November 5, 1942.

I have just learned with deep regret that your son F/Sgt. G.A.Keil, has been reported missing. I hope that before this letter arrives you will have heard that he is safe. Or if the news has not already come, and it often takes weeks to filter through, I hope that it comes speedily.  Meanwhile may I assure you of my deepest sympathy.

5.(L.S.Breadner) Air Marshal, Chief of the Air Staff, on 28th of June, 1943, in a letter to Mr. Jacob Keil, Togo, Saskatchewan.

I have learned with deep regret that your son, Flight Sergeant George Alvin Keil, previously reported missing on Active Service Overseas is now presumed to have died on October 20th, 1942. I wish to offer both you and Mrs. Keil my sincere and heartfelt sympathy.

It is so unfortunate that a promising career should be thus terminated and I would like you to know that his loss is greatly deplored by all those with whom your son was serving.

In 1952 Keil Lake was named after F/S George A. Keil R.C.A.F. in the Province of Saskatchewan, Department of Natural Resources. Latitude 59 degrees 25’ 30” and Longitude 106 degrees 00’ 00”.

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